By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council will consider adopting a resolution requesting the North Carolina Department of Transportation lower the speed limit on a portion of North Lake Park Blvd during their upcoming January 9th, meeting at 6:30PM.
The Council will consider asking the state to lower the speed limit from 45mph to 35mph on North Lake Park Blvd from Dow Road to Access Road at Snow's Cut Bridge across from the Food Lion Shopping Center.
The Council received an update from Town Manager Michael Cramer during their November 14th, meeting regarding speed limits on North Lake Park Blvd (Hwy 421) and Dow Road.
Cramer explained, "Over the past month we've had quite a bit of interest in Dow Road speed limits. Part of this stemmed from several months ago when Council approved changes to the golf cart ordinance and the rules and regulations." He said one of the issues discovered during those discussions is a state law prohibiting golf carts from operating on roads with a speed limit above 35 mph. The only section of Lake Park Blvd that has a limit higher than 35 mph is a portion of North Lake Park Blvd from the intersection of Dow Road north to Snow's Cut Bridge at 45 mph.
Cramer explained, "The people that are in Port Side Village cannot legally use a golf cart to get out on to Lake Park and go down to another section that is legal for them to be in without illegally driving on Lake Park because it's 45 mph."
He explained, "What the conclusion was at that time was Council asked us to talk to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and ask them to do a traffic study on the speed limit for that area. At the same time we asked them to do a review of the speed limit from Lake Park and Dow down to Harper Avenue. That also is currently 45 mph. So we asked them to do a speed study on that segment and determine if that could be reduced to 35 mph thus making it so any of these areas that are north of Town could transverse the Town legally on a golf cart and not have any difficulties with that."
Cramer explained, "The third item that we requested from NCDOT was that they look at the entrance to the Carolina Beach State Park. We have a lot of traffic congestion on Dow Road going into the State Park. That area has no turn lane and we were requesting they look at right and left turn lanes into the State Park area. Basically on October 27th, NCDOT came back with a recommendation and the area in Lake Park between Food Lion and Town Hall does not warrant having the speed limit reduced. That is by their statistical analysis of the volume of traffic and the speeds that are conducted in that area."
He said NCDOT officials witnessed traffic traveling at an average of 51 mph along North Lake Park Blvd from Dow Road to Snow's Cut Bridge.
He explained, "They don't recommend that it be reduced down to 35 mph, however, they have said as long as the Council adopts a resolution requesting that reduction be made and that the Town will continue to enforce speed limit rules, that they will concur with the Town's wishes and change that to 35 mph."
Cramer said NCDOT took a different stance on changing the speed limit on Dow Road from Lake Park Blvd to Harper Avenue by simply denying the Town's request. He said NCDOT is open to the installation of turn lanes on Dow Road to facilitate traffic flow into the Carolina Beach State Park but the Town would have to fund the project.
He explained, "Basically they said the section really doesn't warrant a speed limit change. That people do travel at about the same speed limit as the speed limit for that section. They would not recommend changing that and they don't recommend we request it by a resolution because they don't believe it would be a safe activity."
He explained, "At this point it does make some sense to go and do a resolution requesting the change on Lake Park Blvd to make it so on Lake Park from Food Lion all the way down to Spartanburg you could use a golf cart and it would get us away from the issue we have with Port Side. At the present time they aren't recommending anything on Dow Road for this section to be changed. They would like to leave it at 45 mph."
Earlier this week Senior Planner Jeremy Hardison explained, " In July staff requested the Department of Transportation to conduct a speed limit study for the area from Town Hall to Access Rd (Food Lion stop light) to reduce the speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph. There findings did not warrant a change the speed limit per NCDOT requirements, however, if the Town Council will pass a resolution indicating that the town would like the speed limit reduced to 35 miles per hour and that the town will enforce the speed limit, NCDOT will allow the change. The proposed speed limit sign change will begin 600 ft. north of Access Rd. They will change out the existing 45 mph sign at the base of the bridge with a 35 MPH Reduce Speed Ahead sign. DOT would not change the speed limit north of the bridge based on the current data or at the beginning of the bridge because they have limitations placing signs on bridges and would not be able to post the necessary reduce speed ahead sign. The town will need to adopt the attached resolution to send to DOT requesting the speed limit change and amend the town ordinance."
The Council will consider the resolution during their January 9th, meeting at 6:30PM at Town Hall.